This weekend was Buffalo's annual food festival, A Taste of Buffalo, wherein fifty or sixty area restaurants set up booths in downtown Buffalo and sell sample-sized portions of their menu items. It's always a fun time; we've been going for over ten years now.
The prices have gone up a bit over the years. The way Taste works is this: you never pay the restaurants directly. Instead, you buy tickets at $.50 each (in sheets of ten), and then you "pay" the restaurants in tickets. Small items tend to go for 3 tickets each, mid-items will for for 4, 5, or even 6; most places have a "big" item that goes for 8 tickets. When we first started going, ticket prices at the booths topped out at 6 tickets, so items that were once $3.00 are now $4.00. No big deal, really, but we do budget for it.
Typically we spend between $40 and $60 down there, which isn't awful, for a family of three. And that's all food: we take our own drinks, packing a cooler bag with some Pepsis and a lot of water bottles. We also never drop by the beer tents or the wine places -- one joint was doing "wine slushies" for fifteen tickets each. We were quite full when we left, even though we got "burned" at one place whose 8-ticket item turned out to be very small indeed. (Oddly enough, it was one of our favorite local restaurants! It was doing barbecue ribs for 8 tickets. I like their ribs, so I plunked down my tickets -- and was handed a little paper basket with two ribs in it. Harumph.)
Anyway, we had several slices of pizza from various places, two different versions of Caribbean Jerk chicken, a cup of chicken wing soup, a pulled pork sandwich and some mac-and-cheese from a barbecue joint, as well as some ice cream and a few other goodies along the way. I have noted that there doesn't seem to be enough "new blood" every year, and we've been going to the Taste long enough that we have "old favorites". The addition of a second place offering Jerk Chicken was pretty cool, though!
We left when the crowds started getting too thick, which usually happens around 3:00 in the afternoon. (There was an awful bottleneck in the street at one point, which turned out to be because Senator Charles Schumer chose the worst possible spot to set up camp for his day of handshaking. It's always nice to see one's Senator, but he sure picked a lousy spot to stand!)
There was one other way that the Taste of Buffalo cost us a chunk of money on Saturday. After walking around downtown eating for three-and-a-half hours, we were all pretty tired when we got home. So when dinner time rolled 'round...we decided to get a pizza and some wings instead. There went another thirty bucks! Oh well. It was a great food day, though.